After watching Super Bowl XL in Detroit, I couldn’t help reflecting on the entertainment. Why not feature more of Detroit’s rich musical heritage in the first Super Bowl in 50 years to be held in Motor City? Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin, of course, DO represent part of this heritage via Motown Records….And while Joss Stone, John Legend and India.Arie all draw on a similar soul/rhythm & blues tradition, they ARE NOT explicitly representing the “D.”
No offense to the Rolling Stones, but why not showcase the diverse sets of performers who have been associated with the city?
Maybe its because Detroit’s most innovative music & musicians have a long tradition of being marked along class and racial lines….a marking which often comes with a “dangerous” edge that would not set well with an event that tries very hard (despite the many “babes” in commercials for beer and GoDaddy.com) to be “family friendly.”
There is, of course, the important aforementioned musical contributions of Motown Records, but there is also an important Detroit Rock scene in the late 1960s and early 1970s: The Amboy Dukes, MC5, Stooges, Bob Seager, Rationals, Alice Cooper, Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen, Ted Nugent and Grand Funk Railroad to name a few. Moreover, there is now the blossoming hip hop scene (with the “king of the mic” battles and Eminem’s commercial success) and hybrid musical forms (i.e., Kid Rock).
So why not showcase this diverse and rich local music scene that has contributed greatly to larger global music trends? Can you imagine the transgressive nature of a half-time show that featured a “quick change” melody (as these multiple-artist shows seem to always be) between the MC5, Alice Cooper, Commander Cody, and Eminem (with the Funk Brothers backing)…they could all do a finale of Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Goin’ On”…. this would be extremely appropriate–not only in our current political climate, but because they tore down the Motown Records Studios to put in parking for the Super Bowl…
“There’s only two kinds of people on the planet: those who make up the problem and those who make up the solution. WE ARE THE SOLUTION. We have no problems. Everything is free for everybody. Money sucks. Leaders suck. School sucks. The white honkie culture that has been handed to us on a silver platter is meaningless to us! We don’t want it!”–MC5, White Panther Party Statement